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DAC IV stages
Yahzi
post Feb 20 2013, 18:38
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How important are DAC IV stages in the design of a DAC? I've heard they can cause audible differences. Is this true? I'm not a DAC designer, but I assume there are those who understand the technical merits. Is it a big deal?
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John_Siau
post Feb 20 2013, 22:52
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Take a look at published specifications for D/A converters, DVD players, sound cards, iPod, etc. Many only have an 80 to 90 dB SNR. This means that the noise will be audible in an A/B/X test if the peak music levels exceed 80 to 90 dB SPL (easily achieved).

Worse yet, most D/A converters are preceded by a digital volume control. If 20 dB of digital attenuation is dialed in (very typical), the SNR will degrade by 20 dB. In many systems, the user will need to apply 20 dB of digital attenuation to achieve a playback level that peaks at 100 dB SPL. Under these conditions the converter noise may reach 30 to 40 dB SPL. It is not hard to hear the noise floor drop from 30 of 40 dB SPL to less than 0 dB SPL in an A/B/X test.

I have an ABX tester, and it is very easy to pick out D/A converters that have high noise floors.

If one wishes to use a digital volume control, the D/A converter will need an extra 20 dB SNR to keep noise inaudible at loud playback levels. If we want to achieve "CD" quality and use 20 dB of digital attenuation, then 116 dB SNR is required. Under these conditions, noise may still become audible if playback peaks exceed 96 dB SPL.

D/A converters with >116 dB SNR are few and far between. Noise alone is a dead giveaway when comparing D/A converters.

This post has been edited by John_Siau: Feb 20 2013, 22:57


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saratoga
post Feb 20 2013, 23:51
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QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:52) *
Take a look at published specifications for D/A converters, DVD players, sound cards, iPod, etc. Many only have an 80 to 90 dB SNR.


You're exaggerating. Most quality players (iPods included) are very nearly quantization noise limited over line out. 80dB is quite rare and would be exceptionally bad for a name brand device. The Apple stuff will give you 15.5 effecitve bits over headphone out with full analog volume control for not all that much money.

QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:52) *
D/A converters with >116 dB SNR are few and far between. Noise alone is a dead giveaway when comparing D/A converters.


Yeah but in reality it doesn't make much difference since you never use that dynamic range. CDs using > 80dB dynamic range are far rarer then D/A converters with < 80dB dynamic range.
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John_Siau
post Feb 21 2013, 14:57
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 20 2013, 17:51) *
80dB is quite rare and would be exceptionally bad for a name brand device. The Apple stuff will give you 15.5 effecitve bits over headphone out with full analog volume control for not all that much money.


15.5 effective bits when the volume control is set at maximum, and to the best of my knowledge, none of the Apple devices have analog volume control (please correct me if I am wrong). With 20 dB digital attenuation, 15.5 effective bits becomes 12.2 effective bits. The problem is that significant amounts of digital attenuation are often used at normal listening levels, and the converter noise is often audible.

QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 20 2013, 17:51) *
Yeah but in reality it doesn't make much difference since you never use that dynamic range. CDs using > 80dB dynamic range are far rarer then D/A converters with < 80dB dynamic range.


CD and high-resolution low-noise recordings do exist, and if these are used in an ABX test, the noise floors of many converters should be audible (on the basis of calculated SPL of the noise).


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saratoga
post Feb 21 2013, 20:00
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QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 08:57) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 20 2013, 17:51) *
80dB is quite rare and would be exceptionally bad for a name brand device. The Apple stuff will give you 15.5 effecitve bits over headphone out with full analog volume control for not all that much money.


15.5 effective bits when the volume control is set at maximum, and to the best of my knowledge, none of the Apple devices have analog volume control (please correct me if I am wrong).


All portable electronics have analog volume control, Apple's included. You couldn't buy an mp3 player that had digital volume control if you wanted to. They aren't made.

QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 08:57) *
With 20 dB digital attenuation, 15.5 effective bits becomes 12.2 effective bits. The problem is that significant amounts of digital attenuation are often used at normal listening levels, and the converter noise is often audible.


Yeah but no one does this so it doesn't matter.

Edit: Although I don't mean to imply that analog volume control imposes no SNR hit. I'm sure at the lowest volume the SNR on an ipod is much worse. But at reasonable volumes its more then sufficient, which is what I was trying to say.

QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 08:57) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 20 2013, 17:51) *
Yeah but in reality it doesn't make much difference since you never use that dynamic range. CDs using > 80dB dynamic range are far rarer then D/A converters with < 80dB dynamic range.


CD and high-resolution low-noise recordings do exist, and if these are used in an ABX test, the noise floors of many converters should be audible (on the basis of calculated SPL of the noise).


Yes, but people don't buy CE to do ABX tests of specially selected samples. They buy them to listen to music. With enough effort I can find samples that break MP3, AAC, Vorbis, etc. Doesn't mean I dislike those formats. It just means I can break them if I try.

This post has been edited by saratoga: Feb 21 2013, 20:11
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John_Siau
post Feb 21 2013, 23:03
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 14:00) *
All portable electronics have analog volume control, Apple's included. You couldn't buy an mp3 player that had digital volume control if you wanted to. They aren't made.


Absolutely incorrect!

Almost all of these products all have buttons or cap-touch buttons (or sliders) that control volume up and down. In almost all cases, the volume control is a digital multiplier. Very few consumer products still have analog volume controls (variable resistors) in the audio path. DSP is cheap and is already required to do MP3 decoding.


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saratoga
post Feb 21 2013, 23:23
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QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 14:00) *
All portable electronics have analog volume control, Apple's included. You couldn't buy an mp3 player that had digital volume control if you wanted to. They aren't made.


Absolutely incorrect!


Name one such product. Just one.

QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) *
Almost all of these products all have buttons or cap-touch buttons (or sliders) that control volume up and down. In almost all cases, the volume control is a digital multiplier.


You've obviously never reverse engineered any of these devices if you think this.

Edit: I mean think about what you're claiming. Any modern device can set the line out and headphone out volume independently. Do you really think theres two stereo DACs included just so that they can use independent digital volume adjustments? No, that'd be nuts, the cost would be huge. They have independent volume control because the headphone amp and line out amp volume is software controlled.

This post has been edited by saratoga: Feb 21 2013, 23:36
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John_Siau
post Feb 22 2013, 15:15
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 17:23) *
QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 14:00) *
All portable electronics have analog volume control, Apple's included. You couldn't buy an mp3 player that had digital volume control if you wanted to. They aren't made.


Absolutely incorrect!


Name one such product. Just one.

QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) *
Almost all of these products all have buttons or cap-touch buttons (or sliders) that control volume up and down. In almost all cases, the volume control is a digital multiplier.


You've obviously never reverse engineered any of these devices if you think this.

Edit: I mean think about what you're claiming. Any modern device can set the line out and headphone out volume independently. Do you really think theres two stereo DACs included just so that they can use independent digital volume adjustments? No, that'd be nuts, the cost would be huge. They have independent volume control because the headphone amp and line out amp volume is software controlled.

Wrong, but your conclusion that two DACs would be required is correct!

The Apple devices use Cirrus CLI158881 Stereo Codecs which are similar to the CS42L73. These devices have two stereo DACs, one stereo ADC, and a digital mixing engine. Such chips form the audio core of almost all portable devices. Digital gain control is ubiquitous.

See:

http://www.cirrus.com/en/products/cs42l73.html

This post has been edited by John_Siau: Feb 22 2013, 15:16


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 22 2013, 16:33
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QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 09:15) *
QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 17:23) *

QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) *

QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 14:00) *

All portable electronics have analog volume control, Apple's included. You couldn't buy an mp3 player that had digital volume control if you wanted to. They aren't made.


Absolutely incorrect!


Name one such product. Just one.


The Apple devices use Cirrus CLI158881 Stereo Codecs which are similar to the CS42L73. These devices have two stereo DACs, one stereo ADC, and a digital mixing engine. Such chips form the audio core of almost all portable devices. Digital gain control is ubiquitous.

See:

http://www.cirrus.com/en/products/cs42l73.html


Agreed. The usual chips we find in mainstream portable digital audio player and smart phones and tablets generally has at last 4 DACs and 2 ADCs. Even though they are not all used by the specific products, this is also true of the SOC that is the heart of the economically-priced Sansa Clip+ and Fuze.
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saratoga
post Feb 22 2013, 17:58
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QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 09:49) *
From NWAVGuy's dissection and review of the Clip:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/sans...p-measured.html

DAC linearity is important because most portable devices have digital volume controls that reduce the signal before the DAC


ha, hes wrong. I somehow missed that reading the review.

QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 09:49) *
And I'm new here and have never taken a DAP apart, but requiring that someone you disagree with undertake the entire burden of proof while you should be assumed correct by default seems a bit much.


How exactly do I prove that something doesn't exist? I can point out that I've worked on drivers for lots of these devices and not one of them uses digital gain control, but I can't really prove it since I haven't worked on every single device in existence, just a lot of them.

QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 10:33) *
Agreed. The usual chips we find in mainstream portable digital audio player and smart phones and tablets generally has at last 4 DACs and 2 ADCs. Even though they are not all used by the specific products, this is also true of the SOC that is the heart of the economically-priced Sansa Clip+ and Fuze.


No, those are 1 stereo DAC devices. Two is actually rare in low power devices, and off hand I can't think of any dedicated MP3 players that do that. I think that Cirrus part above is aimed more at tablets and higher power devices, so probably they can afford a little more logic.
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scuttle
post Feb 22 2013, 19:01
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 16:58) *
QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 09:49) *
From NWAVGuy's dissection and review of the Clip:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/sans...p-measured.html

DAC linearity is important because most portable devices have digital volume controls that reduce the signal before the DAC


ha, hes wrong. I somehow missed that reading the review.



No. You have failed to understand your own post. You wrote:

You couldn't buy an mp3 player that had digital volume control if you wanted to. They aren't made.


That the chip used in the Clip (assuming this is your evidence for your contention - you didn't bother saying why anybody should listen to you) has analog AND digital volume control still makes NWAVguy right and you wrong. Read what you wrote!

And if that chip isn't your evidence, then what is? Are people supposed to say "Yes; this man is angry and can't use apostrophes - clearly he must be in the right!"? No.



QUOTE
QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 09:49) *
And I'm new here and have never taken a DAP apart, but requiring that someone you disagree with undertake the entire burden of proof while you should be assumed correct by default seems a bit much.


How exactly do I prove that something doesn't exist? I can point out that I've worked on drivers for lots of these devices and not one of them uses digital gain control, but I can't really prove it since I haven't worked on every single device in existence, just a lot of them.


Yes: your claim was inherently unprovable - which makes it silly - but if you could name a couple of major players then that would at least be indicative.

And you can claim to have written drivers, but so what? The Internet is full of people who claim to be special forces, CIA agents, and aliens - especially when they think it will help them win some silly debate. NWAVGuy is a reasonable expert witness because everyone here knows that he is competent enough to design the ODAC; all we know about you is that you can type.
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greynol
post Feb 22 2013, 19:42
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QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:01) *
That the chip used in the Clip has analog AND digital volume control still makes NWAVguy right and you wrong.

Prove that the digital volume is being used, otherwise you have no room to claim that either person is right or wrong.

QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:01) *
Yes: your claim was inherently unprovable - which makes it silly - but if you could name a couple of major players then that would at least be indicative.

Based on the other contention, namely that almost all players implement volume digitally, you would think his claim would be easily falsified. There's quite a disparity from that and inherently unprovable, no? I mean, you already think you disproved it if I am to take your contention seriously that NwAvGuy is right and Saratoga is wrong. Of course at the time of this edit, I think it has been conceded by John that both Apple and Sansa use an analog volume control. Are these major enough players for you?

QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:01) *
The Internet is full of people who claim to be special forces, CIA agents, and aliens - especially when they think it will help them win some silly debate.

Exactly!

QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:01) *
all we know

I would be careful in your use of the word we. You're new here, remember?

This post has been edited by greynol: Feb 23 2013, 18:25


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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Feb 22 2013, 20:36
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QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 22 2013, 13:42) *
QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:01) *
That the chip used in the Clip has analog AND digital volume control still makes NWAVguy right and you wrong.

Prove that the digital volume is being used, otherwise you have no room to claim that either person is right or wrong.


Actually its pretty easy to show that the analog volume control is being used. Reference:

http://www.ams.com/eng/Products/Mobile-Ent...trollers/AS3525

download the data sheet PDF and analyze figure 1.

Seems like the only route from the DAC to the headphone amp goes through an analog volume control.
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Posts in this topic
- Yahzi   DAC IV stages   Feb 20 2013, 18:38
- - John_Siau   The I-V (current to voltage) conversion stage of a...   Feb 20 2013, 20:48
|- - Soap   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 14:48) Fo...   Feb 21 2013, 03:37
|- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Soap @ Feb 20 2013, 21:37) QUOTE (...   Feb 21 2013, 15:20
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 09:20) QU...   Feb 21 2013, 16:09
- - Yahzi   Thanks for the reply John. I'm getting a few p...   Feb 20 2013, 21:47
- - John_Siau   Designing an I-V converter with a 130 dB SNR is no...   Feb 20 2013, 22:02
|- - Yahzi   But it is largely irrelevant if it is competently ...   Feb 20 2013, 22:28
||- - benski   QUOTE (Yahzi @ Feb 20 2013, 16:28) But it...   Feb 20 2013, 22:44
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:02) De...   Feb 21 2013, 16:11
|- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 21 2013, 10...   Feb 21 2013, 16:47
- - John_Siau   Take a look at published specifications for D/A co...   Feb 20 2013, 22:52
|- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:52) Ta...   Feb 20 2013, 23:51
||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 20 2013, 17:51) 80d...   Feb 21 2013, 14:57
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 08:57) QU...   Feb 21 2013, 20:00
||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 14:00) All...   Feb 21 2013, 23:03
||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) QU...   Feb 21 2013, 23:23
|||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 17:23) QUO...   Feb 22 2013, 15:15
||||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 09:15) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 16:33
|||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 09:49) From...   Feb 22 2013, 17:58
|||||- - scuttle   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 16:58) QUO...   Feb 22 2013, 19:01
|||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 13:01) No. ...   Feb 22 2013, 19:39
||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 13:39) Wel...   Feb 22 2013, 20:13
||||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 14:13) Bo...   Feb 22 2013, 20:36
||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 14:36) Lik...   Feb 22 2013, 20:46
||||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 14:46) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 20:53
||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 14:53) Roc...   Feb 22 2013, 21:13
||||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 15:13) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 21:38
|||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 15:38) The...   Feb 22 2013, 22:21
|||||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 16:21) Bu...   Feb 22 2013, 22:24
|||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 16:24) QUO...   Feb 22 2013, 22:38
|||||||- - greynol   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 13:38) So...   Feb 22 2013, 22:48
||||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 22 2013, 16:48) Is t...   Feb 22 2013, 22:57
||||||||- - greynol   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 13:57) Ye...   Feb 22 2013, 23:05
|||||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 17...   Feb 23 2013, 04:02
|||||||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 22:02) Loo...   Feb 23 2013, 17:11
|||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 23 2013, 11...   Feb 27 2013, 15:10
|||||||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 27 2013, 09:10) In...   Feb 27 2013, 16:30
||||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 27 2013, 10...   Mar 4 2013, 17:28
||||||||- - Soap   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Mar 4 2013, 11:28) QUO...   Mar 5 2013, 01:11
|||||||- - Nessuno   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 27 2013, 15:10) Wh...   Feb 28 2013, 13:57
||||||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 15:13) An...   Feb 22 2013, 22:56
||||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 16...   Feb 22 2013, 23:06
|||||- - greynol   QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:01) That...   Feb 22 2013, 19:42
|||||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 22 2013, 13:42) QUOT...   Feb 22 2013, 20:36
|||||- - greynol   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 11...   Feb 22 2013, 20:43
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 09:15) Wr...   Feb 22 2013, 17:48
|||- - scuttle   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 21 2013, 22:23) QUO...   Feb 22 2013, 15:49
||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 17:03) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 16:10
||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 10...   Feb 22 2013, 19:41
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:52) Ta...   Feb 21 2013, 16:00
||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:52) Ta...   Feb 21 2013, 18:44
|||- - [JAZ]   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 18:44) sy...   Feb 21 2013, 20:36
|||- - John_Siau   QUOTE ([JAZ] @ Feb 21 2013, 14:36...   Feb 21 2013, 22:49
|||- - [JAZ]   That the usual listening volume of most electronic...   Feb 21 2013, 23:45
|||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 16:49) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 16:27
|||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 10...   Feb 22 2013, 18:17
|||- - John_Siau   The following quote from NwAvGuy's Sansa Clip+...   Feb 22 2013, 18:32
|||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 12:17) In...   Feb 22 2013, 18:40
||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 12:40) I...   Feb 22 2013, 19:10
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 13:10) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 19:45
||||- - John_Siau   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 13:45) I d...   Feb 22 2013, 20:38
||||- - saratoga   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 14:38) QU...   Feb 22 2013, 20:42
|||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 22 2013, 12:17) Bu...   Feb 22 2013, 20:58
|||- - saratoga   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 22 2013, 14...   Feb 22 2013, 21:07
|||- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (saratoga @ Feb 22 2013, 15:07) QUO...   Feb 22 2013, 23:01
||- - Ethan Winer   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 21 2013, 10...   Feb 21 2013, 20:43
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 20 2013, 16:52) D/...   Feb 21 2013, 16:04
|- - John_Siau   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Feb 21 2013, 10...   Feb 21 2013, 16:28
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (John_Siau @ Feb 21 2013, 10:28) QU...   Feb 21 2013, 18:28
- - Yahzi   So your view is that it is a potential issue but i...   Feb 20 2013, 23:09
- - saratoga   I think SNR is probably not the best way to think ...   Feb 22 2013, 00:05
- - greynol   Since when has NwAvGuy been the ultimate arbiter o...   Feb 22 2013, 18:53
|- - scuttle   QUOTE (greynol @ Feb 22 2013, 17:53) Sinc...   Feb 22 2013, 19:08
|- - greynol   QUOTE (scuttle @ Feb 22 2013, 10:08) You...   Feb 22 2013, 19:18
- - greynol   So rockbox uses the analog volume control, which i...   Feb 22 2013, 20:27
- - greynol   1) 6 dB is not 20 dB 2) Downward scaling in order...   Feb 22 2013, 21:30
- - Mach-X   Rather ironic that everybody is rather correct. Th...   Mar 5 2013, 11:47


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